Not many people have heard about staged car accidents, yet these scams increase each year. What’s worse is that without enough evidence to prove you weren’t at fault, the financial losses in these incidents are extensive, on top of the complications of your injuries.
Here’s what our reliable and skilled Kansas City auto accident lawyers want you to know about whether car accidents can be staged, how to be more aware, and what to do if you need help seeking justice after all.
How to Recognize a Staged Car Accident
The National Insurance Crime Bureau states that fraudulent automobile accidents most frequently occur:
- In urban areas where there’s a higher concentration of traffic.
- In wealthier communities due to the perception that motorists in these areas have better cars and often higher insurance premiums.
- Against commercial, new, or rental vehicles because they’re also well-insured.
At first, you might not think you’ve been scammed, so it’s hard to fully understand what just happened. Additionally, scam artists enlist the help of “witnesses”, also known as “shady helpers”, to back up their claims, and often claim false injuries. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common schemes.
Left turn drive-down
This usually involves two other motorists. As you prepare to make a left turn—say from a four-lane street into a parking lot—a driver in the opposing lanes waves for you to complete the action. Then, just as you’re turning, they zip ahead and block the entrance, so you stop abruptly to avoid hitting them. But then a second driver collides into the side of your vehicle while the first one flees the scene. This makes it appear you were at fault for pulling into oncoming traffic.
Right turn drive-down
In this scenario, as you turn right at an intersection, the scammer hits your vehicle on the back left side, then claims you pulled out into traffic.
This staged car accident happens when you have a clear path to merge into traffic from a right-side curb, then another motorist purposefully crosses from the left lane and deliberately hits your vehicle. They’ll accuse you of pulling out into traffic when it wasn’t clear.
Simple but effective, the criminal in front of you suddenly hits the brakes, forcing a rear-end collision. Defending yourself against this claim is especially tricky in Missouri, which has a rear-end collision doctrine, which means the injured motorist of the front vehicle doesn’t necessarily have to prove the negligence of the rear motorist.
As you attempt a lane change, another motorist waves for you to go ahead. However, as you start to switch lanes, they accelerate and crash into you. When recounting the accident to the police, you’ll say they gave you a courtesy wave, but they’ll deny it.
Don’t Be a Victim of Staged Car Accident Fraud
Always be mindful to use your blinkers, leave plenty of room for merging or switching lanes, and not to tailgate other vehicles. If despite your precautions an accident happens anyway but it just doesn’t seem right, here’s what to know:
Immediately call 911. This should happen after every motor vehicle accident anyway.
Watch out for “cappers” and “runners”. These are people in on the scheme who suddenly appear on the scene in a tow truck shortly after the accident no one called for or try to convince you to see a particular attorney or doctor.
Photograph everything. If you’re able or someone else can help, documenting all the vehicles involved, the driver and other passengers, and everyone’s injuries help solidify evidence for your case.
Contact an experienced attorney. As soon as you can, consult a skilled Kansas City car accident attorney who understands the complexities of car accidents, including how insurance adjusters assign fault, damages that can be filed against your policy, and what evidence supports your innocence. You also need a legal professional who can help reduce the serious amount of stress you have after such an accident, especially if you're dealing with a challenging injury recovery, and give you peace of mind that someone is fighting for justice on your behalf.